Stephen Strasburg is a free agent, and the San Diego Padres are linked to the pitcher. But can they afford him?
2019 World Series MVP and former Washington Nationals’ pitcher Stephen Strasburg opted out of the remaining four years in his contract and is now a Major League free agent.
Four-years and $100-million remaining in his deal were not enough to keep him in Washington, as he is sure to make more than that on the open market. The pitcher may still return to the Nationals, but the ace right-hander is free to sign with any team he chooses.
Immediately, the link to San Diego was made.
Strasburg is a native of America’s Finest City, pitching for West Hills High School in Santee. He also went to San Diego State University and was mentored by Padres’ legend Tony Gwynn. He has deep roots in the city of San Diego. The link is very understandable.
The resurgent Padres happen to need a starting pitcher at the top of their rotation presently. The franchise has also slowly stepped up its payroll for the last three years, investing into several players. The Padres seem poised to make even more of a splash in the 2019-20 offseason. Padres’ owner Peter Seidler recently spoke out about the possibility of adding payroll. “We’ve shown we’re not afraid of doing very long-term, very high-paying deals,” Seidler told Dennis Lin of the Athletic. He went on saying- “A.J. knows he has the flexibility to increase the budget,” Seidler said.
Stephen Strasburg is going to be a Padre. It is set in stone. Right?
Not so fast. There is a significant obstacle in the way before fans can start the celebration. The main concern stems around the fact that Stephen Strasburg is set to make somewhere around $30-35 million per season in his next deal. You would have to figure the 31-year-old will get at least a five-year contract. That is a minimum of $150 million committed to the pitcher for the next five years. At the very least. He could easily get more. After all, he did just win the World Series MVP.
For the 2020 season, the Padres have roughly $84 million due to four players (Wil Myers, Eric Hosmer, Manny Machado, and Garrett Richards). Adding a Strasburg-type pitcher would take the payroll close to $120 million for those five men, and there would still be money due to 21 other players on the active roster. The Padres are saying they are willing to add payroll. Adding an ace free agent pitcher would certainly push that ideology.
Myers ($22.5) Machado ($32) and Hosmer ($21) are making $75.5 million per season through 2022. Adding Strasburg to that trio means that the Padres would be invested well over $100 million per season to four players. That is a scary thought for a team that is traditionally not a very big spender. Thankfully, for San Diego, the majority of their roster consists of first and second-year players. Men who are not even arbitration-eligible. They could conceivably be alright with the bulk of their payroll committed to a handful of players.
Signing Stephen Strasburg will be difficult for the Padres, but will not be crippling to the franchise, at least not on the financial front. The Padres are investing money into the team, and the results are already showing with the fan base. The 2019 season was successful in terms of the number of fans who came and witnessed the Padres play at Petco Park. The ownership group looks as though they are committed to this thought process. The money will not be a problem for the Padres as they consider their next move to make this winter. Stephen Strasburg could very much be in play for the Padres as the team continues to bump up its payroll and compete in Major League Baseball.